A legislative committee today issued a draft of a proposed bill that addresses gambling expansion and the gambling tax issue at the center of recent U.S. and State Supreme Court rulings. Committee chair, Scott Raecker a republican representative from Urbandale, says under the bill, boats would no longer be require to cruise on lakes and rivers and could be converted to barges. It would let land based casinos add table gamesHe says they would allow them to add table games with a one-time fee of 10-million dollars. He says the bill would address the tax issue by setting a single rate with some adjustments. He says all tracks and casinos would be taxed at 22-percent, with those that have table games taxed at 26 percent. Raecker says the bill also authorizes up to five new casinos, but does NOT require the Racing and Gaming Commission to issue the new licenses. It leaves the decision on new licenses for the commission to decide. Raecker says the provision he sees as the most important adds more money for the gambling treatment program.He says we are in a very difficulty position because gambling has created jobs and is good for the state. He says it also can have a negative impact, so the bill would establish a gambling treatment fund that is separate from the state general fund. He says that would increase the money for gambling treatment from over two million dollars to six million. The bill also calls for a socioeconomic study of the impact of gambling.He says it will be the first time for this type of study and will give anecdotal, instead of piecemeal information on the impact of gambling. Raecker says the bill overall would increase revenue to the state by two-point-seven million dollars. Raecker says there are still a lot of details to be debated. He says laying out a starting point should not be considered the direction the legislature wants to go. He says that should come after both the House and Senate have had a chance to debate the issue. Pam Jochum, a democrat, represents Dubuque, a city that has a dog track and casino.She is also on the committee that crafted the bill and says she has a few concerns.She says she still has some concerns that the state can provide a rational reason for the difference in tax rates for casinos that offer table games. She says they don’t want to end up back in court. The bill also would require the removal of cash machines from casino floors and expand the time a county would have to wait after a failed gambling referendum from two to eight years. The committee will meet again next Tuesday to work more on the bill.
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